Selling Cement Pickles

Trey Dutton's Southern Keep offers a line of pickles and preserves.

Pickling is so essential to the folksy Southern vibe conveyed by Palmetto Bluff, an upscale gated community in Bluffton, that a row of put-ups is pictured on its webpage dedicated to on-site restaurants. But none of the jars hold Cement Pickles, a phrase that former Inn at Palmetto Bluff chef de cuisine Trey Dutton recently trademarked.

Dutton, who spent six years at the property, applied for a trademark after Palmetto Bluff expressed interest in selling the pickles made according to his great-grandmother's recipe. "Since it was a family recipe, I didn't feel right about that," he says. Instead, he launched the Southern Keep brand after leaving Palmetto Bluff in May.

In addition to Cement Pickles, Dutton's line includes bloody Mary pickled okra and blueberry vanilla jam. He's currently out of the jam, which he spikes with bourbon. But he's hoping he has enough jars of Cement Pickles and Cement Pickle relish to see him through June, when the Indigo Road group plans to open Mercantile, a culinary market and eatery at The Cigar Factory on East Bay Street.

As Mercantile's executive chef, Dutton will have access to a commercial kitchen in which he can produce pickles. He previously used a shared facility in Hilton Head.

"It takes three days to make a batch," he says. "It's a process that can't be duplicated by machine, because the pickles are very brittle and they break."

Cement pickles are so called because of the lime used to make them firm. "The name catches people off guard, but it's what I grew up calling them," Dutton says. "They're crisp, sweet and very acidic. The texture is very different."

A pint of Cement Pickles sells for $14. Until the Mercantile opens, they're available exclusively at Star Provisions in Atlanta and through online sales.

For more information, visit southern-keep.com.